The longest Test continues

After the twenty-ninth inter-sessional meeting of the conference of the Caricom Heads of Government concluded on the 28th February, in Haiti, the communiqué issued, surprisingly, included the subject of West Indies cricket.

Surprisingly, since at the previous gathering of the Heads of Government, the thirty-eighth meeting of the Heads of Government in Grand Anse, Grenada, last July, the subject was not on the agenda, and when it was broached by Dr Keith Rowley, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, no one wanted to discuss it.

In the strongly worded communiqué, the heads stated that they had accepted the legal advice of two Queen’s Counsel on cricket in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) being a regional public good and that they had voted unanimously to intervene and bring “some sanity” to West Indies cricket.  

According to the communiqué, it has been agreed “to move towards the development of a legislative framework for the governance of cricket which was consistent with international best practices and the International Cricket Council (ICC) principles.”

It was also announced that the Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on Cricket (PMSC), headed by Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines was going to take the opportunity of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled for next week in London to arrange a meeting with the ICC to discuss the future governance of West Indies cricket.

Well, the ICC has responded to Dr Gonsalves’ request, and not in the manner which was expected.  The response came from ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson and was copied to the Prime Ministers of Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, a copy of which was secured by the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian newspaper and from which the following excerpt is taken.

“I refer to your letter dated March 14, 2018 addressed to the ICC Chairman Mr Manohar. He has requested me to reply on his behalf.  Mr Manohar is amenable to a meeting with the PMSC at a convenient date but since Cricket West Indies [CWI] is our Member he is firmly of the view that the meeting should not take place without the attendance of the Chairman of the Cricket West Indies Board, Mr Cameron.

“The ICC offices are located in Dubai and Mr Manohar is based in Nagpur, India. Your proposal to meet in London during the course of your CHOGM from April 18-20, 2018 will unfortunately not be possible, especially since we are holding our quarterly Board and Committee meetings in Kolkata from April 21-26. As you may be aware, the ICC is staging an ICC Women’s World T20 in the Caribbean in November this year. In the absence of an alternative, this may provide a more convenient opportunity to meet.”

Well, isn’t that convenient? The ICC will be too busy from now until November to meet with the PMSC, and of course, during the ICC Women’s World T20, Dave Cameron will be too busy running around playing the concerned host to have a sit down with the ICC and the PMSC.  The ICC has circled the wagons around one of its own ‘well respected’ members who is known not to rock the boat when the time comes to voting on crucial matters.  Dave and his ICC brethren have opted not to take the field, so we don’t even have a match yet.

This rejection by the ICC to discuss Caricom’s “desperate urgency” to restructure the regional body and include all the relevant stakeholders is just another wet wicket in the continuing two and one half year saga between Caricom and Dave Cameron’s CWI.

The PMSC is well aware of this ploy; in fact, they probably expected it and are waiting to see what other arm balls the ICC will deliver down the road. In the meantime, the PMSC is preparing for a long innings. Caricom is going to secure the legal consultants necessary who will provide a broad framework through which the legislation will be passed in the Caricom territories.

Cameron’s CWI has fiercely resisted all attempts at the overhaul of its governance of regional cricket ever since the Caricom-commissioned Governance Report – authored by UWI Cave Hill principal Professor Eudine Barriteau – calling for the “immediate dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board and the appointment of an Interim Board,” came out in late 2015.

Speaking a few weeks later on Saturday 14th November in the Cayman Islands at that territory’s Annual Cricket Award’s dinner, Cameron announced, “We have resolved to change the name of the WICB and we will be called Cricket West Indies. And why Cricket West Indies? Simply, because everybody seems to believe that the Board of Directors – the West Indies Cricket Board – is cricket. Cricket is all of us. It’s in all of our communities, in Jamaica, Barbados and in Cayman Islands and the entire region,” Cameron, then WICB president was quoted as saying.

Well, besides changing the name and registering the subsequent entity, CWI in the British Virgin Islands, nothing much has changed. Cameron was re-elected for another five year term last year and is apparently not going anywhere Caricom wants him to go.

Cameron’s response to the latest communiqué, was that CWI leadership must be “selected free of interference from governments.” Perhaps Mr Cameron has forgotten that when he was first elected WICB president in 2013, it was alleged, it was his then Prime Minister, Jamaica’s Portia Simpson-Miller that round-robined support from her fellow Caricom Heads of Government via the telephone, for them to encourage their respective cricket boards to vote for him, resulting in a 7-5 vote in his favour over the incumbent Julian Hunte. So much for government interference.

Perhaps he can now move the CWI Headquarters to the US Virgin Islands, where it will be free of Caricom interference. The ICC might find a way to endorse it.

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